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Subject: Lewis Mumford's Utopian City
A fascinating film made at the end of the Depression that illustrates the populist, utopian principles of its writer, Lewis Mumford. Mumford, an influential social critic at the time, saw cities as ultimately de-humanizingbut he had faith (as the film shows) in the redemptive powers of technology. In hindsight, we can see the limitations of his ideas. The new cities that Mumford writes about are what we would today call suburbs Judging by the film, Mumfords ideas, populist as they are, don't seem to include racial diversity. The new cities also seem to have the same rigid gender roles as the old city; in fact, they reinforce them. As a woman at a primitive washing machine stirs laundry with a stick, the narrator says, Machines needn't break a woman's back; indeed, they can take it and the wife needn't feel cooped up and lonely on washing day. A little gossip or a friendly hand is good for the complexion! Looking at the desolate city scenes in the beginning of the film, its easy to see why people like Mumford would think that abandoning the city center would lead to better lives for working people. Ironically, Mumfords principles were taken to heart after World War II by real estate developers who saw such communities as a way to profit from the veterans who could buy houses with loan guarantees on the GI Bill. Mum-ford's utopian ideas met with a very capitalist end.
"The City" is one of the best films in the Prelinger collection. It makes points about social change and responsibility brilliantly.
Subject: Superb, the Copland soundtrack makes it
This is without doubt the best of these films I've seen on here. It's pre cheesey-propaganda 50's (even though I love those films too) and very poignant. The Aaron Copland music is set perfectly with the footage.
Subject: we got boredom
These new housing developments were so sterile. Everything was new, so clean and so boring. Generally an auto was necessary and people became lethargic. Neighbors were usually only glimpsed as they walked to the carport. Each house became a small fortress equipped with a barking dog or alarm system that would irritate at ungodly hours. The only visible activity was macho man cutting his lawns, often at times to irritate. Alcohol and drug taking boomed. The kids were frustrated and used vandalism and unsocial activities to express their feelings.
Christine Hennig -
Subject: Urban Planning Rids the World of Poverty!
This classic New Deal public service film of the 30s contrasts city slums with ÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂplanned communitiesÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂ such as Green Belt, Maryland. It does this in a very arty fashion, with skillfully edited montages of urban problems backed with a glaring, yet compelling, soundtrack by Aaron Copeland. Ultimately, it doesnÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂt really make its point very well, because it ignores the economic, social, and political problems that result in urban slums, attributing them entirely to planning failures. But it is a fascinating, historically valuable montage of life in the 30s, covering urban life, automation, roadside woes, and even fast food. My favorite scene is a bizarre montage of automated diner equipment and people eating at a frenetic pace. This is the sort of film that is ripe for mining for footage for a video project.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.
Subject: La'Farrah's Review of The City
Viewing The City in black and white was very interesting because the colors made the footage look old in age. After watching this footage I was able to realize that an enhancement as been made in today's urban life. In the footage there were many examples of labor work being demonstrated. For example, there was an old man turning the nozzle on machinery in the middle of the neighborhood's street. In today's urban life there is no possibility that a driver would be able to ride through an urban neighborhood and observe an individual working on machinery. The usage of technology has illuminated urban life by creating new computer machinery, where humans can make a command on a computer by pressing one button. The footage was narrated in an interesting manner. Every visual displayed matched the description of the narrator. I highly recommend individuals to watch the archival footage The City because the viewer would definitely be satisfied with observation of the enhancement of urban life.
Subject: Good City/Bad City
In this appeal to razing down neighborhood slums, the plea to build new cities, and get rid of the ghettos is emphasized. Strikingly visual for such a messaged film, the narration is pretty sparse, sticking with visuals of the city ala Baraka and Koyaanisquatsi. What I like about this film is again the visuals, treating petty items such as road signs into work of art, and it's salute to the car is very masterful as well. What I didn't like, I didn't really think the narration needed to be there, I would be perfectly happy with just the visuals alone, rather then the somewhat stilted narrative. Still, I think this is a reccomended film. Turn down the volume during the narration, and then turn it back up again when the (excellent) music starts up again.
Subject: Echoes from Vertov's "Man with a movie Camera"
Excellent cinema piece. By many aspects, could be an american answer to Dziga Vertov's classic.
Very "leftist" spoken commentary in my opinion, critizing Big Profit companies who deny human living conditions to the workers they exploit.
The music is particularly good.